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Clever cat

A commanding presence in the marina and a true seafaring vessel, the Aquila 54 proves it’s a mighty multihull that places equal emphasis on form as function.

Written by Jeni Bone

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With Aquila, the journey is just as important as the destination, according to Lee Randall, Business Development Manager at Whitehaven Motor Yachts, which since February 2021 has represented the Aquila brand in Australia and New Zealand.

“The Aquila 54 is a sturdy, ocean-going power cat that is built to travel,” explains Randall.

“It is unique in its excellent use of space and has the Aquila hallmarks of a full-beam master cabin forward on the main level as well as the remarkable deck space, including Portuguese bridge with access to the foredeck. We’ve sold five in Australia already.”

Notable for its space, stability and manoeuvrability, at 16.5 metres and with a draft of just 1.37 metres, the A54 is a popular choice for charter. Several operate in the Whitsundays as well as in various other international markets.

The 54 is complemented by an Aquila 14 RIB (a twin-hull tender with Hypalon tubes and fibreglass hull plus a 40 hp Mercury motor, specifically designed to suit the A54), which sits on a hydraulic platform in between the hulls aft.

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Once the platform is lowered to water level, with a full beam of 7.68 metres, the swim platform becomes a large, versatile space that can be used for sunbathing, fishing with the removable bait board, and water access for toys and tender that launches by simply activating the crane.

On either side of the platform is a deep storage locker for fenders, warps, barbecue tools, lifejackets; whatever kit is required.

Dual stairs with glass gates lead to the fully covered cockpit, which is cool and inviting on a sizzling Gold Coast spring day. The dining table is adjacent to a bench that comfortably seats six, with the bonus of under-seat storage.

Two cockpit bar stools sit by the aft counter of the portside galley, with a hopper window opening to connect outside and in. The engine rooms provide standing headroom and clearly labelled systems, including a Kohler generator. There was no watermaker on our trial boat, but it can be accommodated.

The cockpit flows into the spacious saloon, and once the hopper window and glass doors are closed, it’s practically silent inside when the vessel is under way.

The galley to port comprises an island bench with wine fridge, plenty of counter space, an induction stovetop, dishwasher and convection microwave. To starboard there is a 600-litre, double-door Bosch fridge–freezer and the C-Zone control system.

Webasto air conditioning ensures this comfy, communal space is totally tranquil in temperature as well as decor.

Beyond the galley, a huge lounge/dining area features a hi-lo timber table that extends for entertaining and does double duty as the basis for a bed should extra accommodation be required. Surrounding the table, the seating can easily accommodate ten or so guests, while opposite is another lounge.

Our trial boat was the open flybridge version. In the enclosed flybridge version, an internal staircase is located where the starboard lounge is.

The owners plan to have two cushions custom-made to run on the ledges under the oversized windows for their kids to use as day beds. A large flatscreen television and Fusion entertainment unit complete the picture.

Light and bright, the saloon benefits from generous ceiling height and glazing on the forward bulkhead and sides. In the floor and surrounding the second lounge are yet more storage spaces; handy for long-range cruising.

The A54’s pièce de résistance must surely be its master cabin, which you enter from the saloon where a sliding door closes it off from the rest of the vessel. This full-beam masterpiece is awash with water views thanks to wraparound windows.

In the portside hull is the desk, storage and robe section, while in the starboard hull is the marvellous ensuite, with his-and-hers basins, full-size shower room and cupboards for a washer–dryer. A cabinet of drawers, huge flatscreen television and soundbar round out the master stateroom.

There are two additional cabins below decks on this layout. The larger VIP on the starboard side has a double bed oriented fore-aft as opposed to many brands of cats that place them transverse.

There’s also an ensuite with cupboards, wardrobe, drop-down television and sliding doors for privacy.

The second guest cabin is slightly smaller because of a fourth cabin accessed from the cockpit, which some owners specify as a utility room, but it still provides a double bed, ensuite, storage space and drop-down television.

Throughout the vessel, LED lighting is a subtle safety feature and contributes to the cosy atmosphere. Additional layout options include a straight three-cabin option that confers a generous double with ensuite in each hull, a four-cabin galley-down version and a five-cabin version.

The flybridge can be accessed from the cockpit via a wide companionway. Forward, there’s a Raymarine glass helm and nav gear, plus three custom-crafted helm chairs. The dash is ergonomic and uncluttered while the windshield provides panoramic views.

A hatch on each side lets in the cool cross breeze. Undercover, a table seats six or so, and there’s a barbecue and prep area plus plenty of room to pull up a sunlounge or bean bag.

A Sureshade electric awning to cover the aft section is optional.

Forward is the Aquila hallmark, the Portuguese bridge. This brilliant addition provides access to the expansive foredeck and bow, where a sensational social space awaits comprising sun pads on each side, two hatches for stowage, a chair on each bow and wide walkaround decks leading aft. A divine spot.

Surefooted and stable, the A54 is comparatively economical to run. Equipped with twin 480 Volvo Penta engines and the Dockmate TWIST joystick system, the A54 cruises quietly at around 17 knots and achieves a decent top speed of 22 knots. An optional Cummins 550 package will deliver 25 knots.

Standard tanks provide 2,200 litres but you can opt for an additional 720-litre capacity. Cruising at 17.3 knots, consumption is 106 litres per hour for a 517-nautical-mile range.

The A54’s seagoing hull was designed by Lex Raas, one of the founders of Leopard Catamarans and currently President of Aquila. The bow bulbs are effective wave-breakers and aid in reducing pitching. On our sea trial, the wash of passing boats barely bothers us.

Bruce Scott, Whitehaven Group Managing Director, is confident the Aquila 54 will bring a new demographic to the group, and indeed boating.

“Aquila and Whitehaven hold similar philosophies, practices and commitments to clients,” he explains.

“Aquila has been bold with its designs and innovative in its production techniques, which has propelled the Aquila brand to its market- leading position. There was no better partner for The Whitehaven Group.”

After just a brief taste of the Aquila 54, it’s no wonder she was awarded 2021 Multihull of the Year.

As Randall enthuses, “Access from the bridge to the bow makes for a great cruising and family boat that’s easy for an owner–operator to manage single-handed while keeping an eye on the kids. It’s such an all-rounder.

“We’ve had a lot of interest from monohull motor yacht owners looking for more space for kids and grandkids who want to travel further afield. That’s where the A54 really comes into its own.”

 

aquilaboats.com
whitehavenmotoryachts.com

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